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Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes
“What’s going on on that there Interwebs”

So you’ve decided you would like a Web-presence. Now what?

The first step is picking your location. Like in the “real” world, the virtual world has a real-estate system. If you are going to build a physical business, you first need to by or rent a lot. Likewise, in order to create a Web-presence, you need to secure a domain name. A “domain name” is the .com or .net name that will be used to pull up your Web-site. google.com is a domain name. So is blue3designs.com. This is not to be confused with the “.com” or “.net” that comes at the end of the domain name. These extensions are called “TLD”s. Although only one “google.com” exists, there is also a “google.net” and a “google.org”. Although it is common for a Web-site owner to register several TLDs and forward them all to the same site, each domain may be used as it’s own “lot” on which a unique Web-site may be built. For example, “google.net” redirects to “google.com”, but “google.org” redirects to “https://www.google.com/giving/”.

Domain registrars make these domain names available for registration. Although GoDaddy.com (and yes, that is another domain name) boasts to be the world’s largest domain registrar, there are plenty of options for registering a domain. Find a domain registrar and register your domain. As “.com” would seem to be the universally recognized TLD, registering the “.com” would be wise. Some registrars will tell you you should register other popular TLDs to ensure competitors don’t register them and steal your business. In reality, it would seem unlikely a potential customer would enter “.org” in his or her address bar by mistake when looking for your site. Most Internet users use a search engine to find a new Web-site. Go to Google and enter “blue3designs.org”. What came up? Exactly! To be fair, registering the other TLDs may be wise if you plan on building a network of related sites, but the registering of other TLDs is certainly not a requirement when it comes to creating a Web-presence. There is only one of each domain name, so it is a good idea to register your domain and secure your “lot” before someone else does. Some domain registrars will tell you it is best to register your domain for a 5 or 10 year term. This is unnecessary as you always have first right to renew your domain before it expires. The price for additional years may have risen, but, in this author’s experience, the price does not raise considerably. even over several years.

One could actually create a Web-presence without registering a domain. If the Web-site you are trying to reach has a dedicated IP address, one can type the IP address in the address bar of his or her browser (Examples of browsers include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.) in place of the domain name. One can look up a Web-site’s IP address via the Mac Terminal (This is a utility on your Mac computer.) or the Windows Command Prompt. For an inexperienced user, the Terminal or Command Prompt can be confusing and scary. Another way to find a Web-site’s IP is to visit a Web-site like the one here: http://ping.eu/ping/. Then one can enter that number (It looks something like this: 173.194.115.46) directly in the address bar of his or her browser. Finding a Web-site’s IP address is, of course, not necessary as long as the domain name is pointed properly.

Do you have your domain registered? Good! Now, how are you going to build your Web-site?

Disclaimer: I may be a little bias when it comes to the designing of a Web-site. I am a Web-designer and prefer when a potential customer lets me build him or her a Web-site. In reality, a novice can certainly build an attractive Web-site without professional assistance. There are several template-based programs out there that enable a person who knows little about the Web to build a professional Web-presence. There are advantages to going with a professional design service like the one provided by Blue 3 Designs. For example: building on a template requires a designer to follow the structure of the template. The site may look attractive, but it will likely look somewhat like every other site that was build using that program. Further activities like optimizing one’s Web-site for search engines may prove a difficult task. Not optimizing one’s Web-site properly for search engines may leave a Web-site owner with a beautiful site and no traffic. Again, we often go to Google in search of any new Web-site. If one’s site is not optimized for Google, odds of new visitors finding his or her site would seem slim. But that’s enough of my Blue 3 designs spiel.

If you have decided to use a template-based design program, you will want to find out whether the purchase of the template program includes hosting. Some template programs require that you host your Web-site on the program’s servers. If this is the case, you will be unable to move your Web-site to another hosting provider. It is important to weigh the pros and cons in such a case. although the program may provide you with a quick and easy way to build a Web-presence, one’s Web-site is, in a sense, held hostage. If the hosting price doubles next year, you have to pay it or loose your Web-site.

If you’ve decided to build your Web-site with the help of a template program that produces files which may be hosted anywhere or you’ve decided to have a professional Web-designer build your site (Good for you!), you will need to find a hosting provider. “Shared” hosting provides a Web-site owner limited space on a larger, shared server. Dedicated servers provide much more space and an automatic dedicated IP address. But dedicated servers are often much more expensive than a shared hosting plan. It is not uncommon for techies to joke that the Internet works like a large network of pipes. although there is a little more to it than that, it’s not a bad analogy. One’s hosting plan or server works like a storage bin for one’s Web-site. A data center generally has many servers, often divided into many more shared hosting plans.

And here it all comes together.

So, once one has a domain name pointed to a server on which his or her Web-site files are kept, his or her site can be visited via the Web.
When one pulls up a Web-site on his or her browser, he or she types in the domain name. This name is translated into numbers, an IP address. This “address” works like a physical, street address. It tells the computer where to find the desired Web-site files. If the domain is connected to a shared hosting account that does not have a dedicated IP assigned, the IP address will only get the browser as far as the server. Then the domain is used to find the correct files. The domain works as a folder name. Have you ever noticed you can’t create two folders with the same name on your computer? It’s the same with domains on a server. Once the correct files are located on the correct server in the correct data center, the information is sent to your browser. And you get impatient when it takes more than a couple seconds to load a Web-site…

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Small Business Web-site

Small Business Web-site

http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2013/jan/24/create-good-business-website

This might come off sounding like a Blue 3 Designs commercial. I am passionate about what I do. For a juxtaposition of this talk with and actual Blue 3 Designs commercial, view the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrtfX-MEses.

Since the mid 1990s, the Internet has had a huge impact on various aspects of our culture and society. Not the least of these is commerce. According to Wikipedia, there are 254,295,536 Internet users in the United States. If a business is not on the Web, it is missing out on the potential to be seen by a huge portion of its target market.

But how does a business want to be seen? Do you suppose a business wants to look like every other business on the Web? Let’s look at it another way: Do you have unique business cards that present you to potential customers in a unique way or do you have generic business cards that feature your contact info presented in times-new-roman font? Your Web-site is your online business card. It is often a potential customer’s first impression of your business.

There are several options out there for a business owner to utilize when creating a Web-presence. It is common for a small business owner to purchase a template-based Web-site builder. These Web-site programs offer a small business owner an inexpensive way to build a Web-presence. Although it is possible for a person who knows what he or she is doing to use such a program to design a fairly attractive Web-site, it is easy for an inexperienced designer to get in over his or her head with such a program. I have personally seen the unpolished results of a novice’s attempt a Web-design with the use of one of these template programs. Further, the use of a template-based program means one is confined to the design of the template. This makes a designer’s hard work look like every other template-based Web-site.

According to Anthony Karibian of The Guardian, “An online presence is crucial to a small business, but getting it wrong can do more damage than good…First impressions count, and a professionally designed website with professional images makes all the difference.”

Is everyone familiar with the company GoDaddy? If you aren’t, they boast to be the largest domain registrar in the world. If you don’t speak tech, a domain is the .com or .net name that links to your web–site via the Web. I’m going to pick on GoDaddy a little today, not because they are truly a bad company. I didn’t enjoy working for them, but they are the reason I do what I do now.  I’m going to pick on GoDaddy because they are the big guys. They, like Blue 3 Designs, focus on serving the small business owner. Further, I have personal experience with the GoDaddy line of products, as I worked as a Sales and Support rep there for 2 years.

The design of a 5 Page Web-site via GoDaddy’s Dream Design Team costs $89.99 per month with a commitment of 12 months – $1079.88. This includes 30 minutes worth of updates each month. These updates are important as, according to Karibian, “A dynamic and up-to-date website will be more relevant to a visitor and it will also give repeat visitors a reason to return. News, specials and testimonials are a few ways of making a website more exciting and dynamic. And best of all, updating your content regularly makes it more search-engine friendly.” More on search engine optimization later.

One can update his or her Website via the GoDaddy interface him or herself, but assistance with any task inside the GoDaddy interface may require a customer to sit on hold for some time to speak to a customer support rep who will most likely try to up-sell him or her on a variety of products or services that may or may not be useful to him or her.

This Web-site is built on a GoDaddy template. This means one is unable to move his or her site away from GoDaddy once it is built. After 1 year, this Web-site hosting cost can be reduced by 40%. This brings the hosting price to $647.93.  This move requires a Web-site owner to do all of his or her updates in a backend that is not heavily supported outside the GoDaddy community.

This compares to the competitive 100GB Linux hosting price provided by GoDaddy: $47.88 for 12 months. A Web-site hosted on this type of hosting can be moved to any hosting provider. According to designquote.net, a customized template-based Web-site (The kind that could be hosted on a Linux server) cost anywhere between $460 and $1,496. A custom Web-site with a custom look can cost anywhere between $1,006 and $3,272.

Blue 3 Designs offers an alternative that provides customers with a professional look and easy maintenance. A Blue 3 Designs Web-site is not build on a template. This provides the Web-site owner with a much cleaner and unique looking Web-site. Generally, a Blue 3 Designs Web-site utilizes the backend of WordPress, all the while displaying a page that does not look like every other WordPress site out there. Blue 3 Designs can make updates for a nominal fee or train the Web-site owner to update his or her content via the WordPress backend. Where as alternatives leave a Web-site owner on hold for customer support or attempting to get in touch with an expensive Web-developer, Blue 3 Designs puts the power of updating content in a Web-site owner’s hands. Blue 3 Designs is always more than happy to assist with any updates for a nominal fee, but the beauty of a Blue 3 Designs site is the professional looking front end, with the user-friendly backend of WordPress.

Bottom line: If you are a small business owner, you generally need a professional looking Web-site. Your options for creating a Web-presence include template-based programs which require you to build the site yourself, template based design services which may make it costly to maintain one’s Web-site, costly non-template based designs which require a designer’s constant management, and something like what is offered by Blue 3 Designs, a unique front-end with a very common and commonly supported backend.

So let’s say you have a Web-site you believe looks great. Now how are you getting traffic to your site? GoDaddy also offers a search engine optimization program called “Search Engine Visibility”. This program costs $35.88 for 1 year. This is a bit deceiving as the program does nothing on it’s own to aid in one’s search engine ranking. The “Search Engine Visibility” program provides a Web-site owner with basic tools and instructions for optimizing his or her Web-site for search engines. Google is the number 1 search engine in the world. When one searches Google for “Search Engine Optimization” or “Search Engine Optimization Tools”, the GoDaddy program is not listed anywhere on the first page of results. Instead, the first set of tools listed for either search is Google’s Webmaster tools. Who do you think is better qualified to help your company get the search engine ranking it deserves, Google or GoDaddy?

Who has a greater invested interest in your ranking, the most popular search engine in the world or the company who tells employees “We’re not here for a long time; we’re here for a good time!” Companies like GoDaddy often treat customers as means to an end. When I worked for GoDaddy, it was my job to attempt to up-sell every customer who called in for technical support. If you are ever on the phone with their technical support line, listen carefully to what they say at the beginning of the call. I can recite it in my sleep: “Thank you for calling Sales and Support. My name is Phil. Could I start with your customer number?…and your 4 digit pin? Great! What can I do for you?…(Repeat what you said back in different words.) Are there any other issues today? Alright, I’m going to have a look at that; and then, before we go, I just want to review your account with you to be sure there is nothing else that needs attention.” This last line is my in to try to sell you something. It was common for me to offer the “Business Package” on your hosting. This meant I would renew your hosting up to a five-year term and offer whatever discount I had available that day. I may have tried to sell you Search Engine Visibility. This was my job. It was explained to me when I worked at GoDaddy that it was my job to address my customer’s issue in a way that would keep them from calling back in the next 24 hours and then try to sell him or her something. After the 24 hour mark, we wanted them to call back. A call after 24 hours wouldn’t hurt our First Call Resolution and would give us another opportunity to sell something. This is not to say that companies like GoDaddy are all bad. I, personally have domains and hosting through GoDaddy. this site is hosted on a GoDaddy server. But one who does not know what he or she is doing when it comes to building a Web-presence may find him or herself being taken advantage of when dealing with companies like GoDaddy.

Blue 3 Designs was founded out of my desire to help the small business owners GoDaddy serves. Too often, the GoDaddy way meant simply stating, “We don’t support that.” I certainly could have helped more, but it was my job to get to the next call to sell something. I now have all the authority I need to help my customers in any way I can. Blue 3 Designs is a business. But I believe happy customers means referrals and repeat business. Blue 3 Designs’ services don’t cost as much as other developers’ services, because we are not in competition with other developers. We offer an alternative to being treated as means to an end.

A Web-site that is not optimized for the search engines is not doing all it could to serve a business. Blue 3 Designs offers search engine optimization services as a part of the design package. Simply stated, it is my job to help you.

In closing, if you need a Web-presence or know anyone who is in need of a Web-presence, let Blue 3 Designs help. If you are handing out generic business cards with times-new-roman font, I can help with that too. Thanks.

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